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Former prime minister Scott Morrison has been formally censured by the Australian House of Representatives.

He is the first prime minister, sitting or former, to be censured by the House in a largely symbolic move condemning him for the ‘minister for everything’ scandal.

Former prime ministers Paul Keating and John Howard were censured by the Senate but not by the House. 

Parliament for almost three hours debated whether to censure Mr Morrison, before voting 86 to 50 in favour, with not present or abstaining.

The entire who were present crossbench, other than Bob Katter, joined Labor in supporting the censure, along with Liberal MP Bridget Archer who crossed the floor to vote aye. 

Mr Morrison showed no emotion as the count was read out, knowing it was a foregone conclusion from when it was first proposed. 

The former PM had himself secretly sworn in as treasurer and minister for home affairs, finance, health, and industry, science, energy and resources last year.

Former prime minister Scott Morrison has been formally censured by the Australian House of Representatives

Former prime minister Scott Morrison has been formally censured by the Australian House of Representatives 

None of the ministers for these portfolios, other than Greg Hunt for health, were aware he had secretly doubled up on their jobs.

Other than acknowledging some (but not all) of the appointments were unnecessary, Mr Morrison gave a spirited defence of his actions and offered no apology.

Mr Albanese, the current PM, waited for almost two hours until rising to speak in support of the censure, saying he was unsure if he would speak at all.

‘But I have to respond to the former prime minister’s comments, who has confirmed again, that he just doesn’t get it,’ he said.

‘He said this morning that he had conversations privately with my colleagues.

‘[But] it’s not about Josh Frydenberg. It’s about the people of Australia. That’s who we’re accountable to.’

Mr Albanese was particularly critical of Mr Morrison not using his speech as an opportunity to apologise, or even admit he did anything wrong.

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‘I thought this morning that we would see some contrition – some. A semblance of contrition. We got none of that,’ he said.

‘We got hubris and we got denial from the former prime minister, who in spite of the fact that when we appointed and there was a range of things that we could have done as a government.

‘The former prime minister owes an apology, not to people who he shared brekkie with at The Lodge – he owes an apology to the Australian people for the undermining of democracy.’

Mr Albanese said actions like Mr Morrison’s undermined democracy and were a ‘slippery slope” towards even worse.

‘The fact is that our democracy is precious. There’s no room for complacency,’ he said.

‘We’ve seen overseas, including with the assault on the Capitol Building in the United States, that we can’t take our democracy for granted.’  

It is the first time the House of Representatives has taken this action against a former prime minister – with Liberal and Nationals MPs walking out of the chamber rather than voting.

Leader of the House Tony Burke moved the motion on Wednesday just after 9am and said while censures were rare, they had their place in parliament.

‘The court is the place to determine whether or not something was lawful, but in the parliament we determine whether or not something was appropriate,’ he said.

‘This is not some small matter. It goes to the absolute core of the principle of responsible government.’

Mr Morrison stood in the chamber at 9.30am to vigorously defend his actions. 

‘I have no intention now of submitting to the political intimidation of this government, using its numbers in this place to impose its retribution on a political opponent,’ he told parliament.

Ex-PM Scott Morrison is acknowledged by fellow oppositon MPs after speaking on a censure motion moved against him by the Leader of the House Tony Burke

Ex-PM Scott Morrison is acknowledged by fellow oppositon MPs after speaking on a censure motion moved against him by the Leader of the House Tony Burke

‘I repeat that I have welcomed and supported the recommendations of the Bell inquiry.

‘For those who wish to add their judgement today on my actions in supporting this censure motion, I simply suggest that they stop and consider the following – have you ever had to deal with a crisis where the outlook was completely unknown?

‘In such circumstances, were you able to get all the decisions perfectly right? And where you may have made errors, were you fortunate enough for them to have had no material impact on the result and the result itself proved to be world-leading?

‘Once you have considered your own experience, or what happens when you have had more in government, then you may wish to cast the first stone in this place.’

Mr Burke said Mr Morrison undermined, rejected, attacked, and abused the standards expected of parliamentarians.

He said the former coalition government had attacked conventions and enabled the behaviour of Mr Morrison.

‘This place runs on rules and conventions… the concept that the parliament knows who has which job is essential to responsible government,’ Mr Burke said.

‘You cannot have responsible government if you do not know what people are responsible for. And for two years we did not know.’

He said Mr Morrison’s conduct prevented the House of Representatives from doing its job and was ‘completely unacceptable’.

Scott Morrison is seen smiling as Labor's Leader of the House Tony Burke moved the censure motion against him on Tuesday

Scott Morrison is seen smiling as Labor’s Leader of the House Tony Burke moved the censure motion against him on Tuesday

Liberal MP, Bridget Archer, who will vote with the Albanese Labor Government in censuring the former PM, said Mr Morrison’s actions were an ‘affront’ to the nation.

‘This House has the right to be informed of the appointments,’ she said. 

‘The people of Australia had the right to be informed. In our democracy, what can be more fundamental than this? 

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‘I do not accept any of the explanations put forward by the former prime minister for the actions and I’m deeply disappointed for the lack of apology or more importantly, the lack of understanding of the impact of the decisions.’

Censure motions do not have any legal consequences, but they are rare and give parliamentarians the chance to formally disapprove of their colleagues.

The government agreed to implement all six recommendations from former High Court judge Virginia Bell’s report into Mr Morrison’s conduct, to improve the transparency of ministerial appointments.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said while parliament was set to introduce legislation following the recommendations in the report, a censure was still necessary.

‘These are really serious allegations and the parliament has the right to debate them, to discuss them, and to vote on these actions,’ she told ABC TV on Wednesday.

‘It is entirely appropriate that the parliament has a say, it is the heart of democracy in Australia.’

Mr Morrison sits with fellow Liberal MP Alex Hawke (left) as the censure motion was moved in the House of Representatives on Tuesday

Mr Morrison sits with fellow Liberal MP Alex Hawke (left) as the censure motion was moved in the House of Representatives on Tuesday

Ms Rishworth said it was disheartening the coalition was not backing the censure motion.

‘It is very disappointing that despite the huge public concern over this issue, the Liberal Party and the National party have decided not to back this up with sending a strong message from our parliament, that this type of … power grab is not appropriate in Australian democracy,’ she said.

The report found the secrecy surrounding the appointments were corrosive of trust in government and undermined public confidence in government.

Law changes to improve transparency are expected to get the coalition’s backing.

The last MP to be censured was Liberal MP Bruce Billson in 2018 for not declaring payments while he was still in parliament.

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